Brady Campaign offers a different perspective on firearm microstamping
What is firearm microstamping?
Microstamping technology imprints a unique marking, a micro stamp, on the bullet casing of a firearm. When the bullet casing is recovered at a crime scene, law enforcement will have access to the make and model of the firearm to help trace crime guns.
How does microstamping technology work?
Microstamping technology uses lasers to imprint unique markings onto the tip of a firing pin and/or breech face of a firearm. These markings include specific information about the gun, much like a serial number. This information is then stamped onto the bullet casings, so when the gun is fired, law enforcement can connect the bullets to the identifying information about the gun.
Microstamping technology will enable law enforcement to match bullet cartridges found at crime scenes directly to the gun that fired them, similar to the way law enforcement can use an automobile’s license plate to identify the vehicle’s make, model, VIN, and registered owner.
Microstamping technology will save lives
Microstamping technology will revolutionize law enforcement’s ability to identify shooters and gun traffickers, apprehend them before they do more harm, and hold them accountable.
We know that the majority of gun crimes go unsolved. Furthermore, we know that fatal shootings involving Black Americans go unsolved at greater rates, which can perpetuate cycles of violence and create distrust in law enforcement. By ensuring that firearms, however, are equipped with microstamping technology, we can access more data to solve gun crimes that impact Black Americans, build upon existing gun safety laws, and create a tracing system to ensure that when a gun is used in a crime, it is identifiable and the perpetrator is brought to justice.
Communities across the country would greatly benefit from microstamping technology. Helping solve crimes by incorporating this lifesaving technology will help keep more Americans safe and stop cycles of violence from taking hold,creating a ripple effect of benefits to public safety and community trust.
Microstamping technology will:
- Allow for more crimes to be solved;
- Help stop cycles of violence;
- Allow law enforcement to identify the sources of crime guns; and
- Increase trust in law enforcement by ensuring investigations are based on evidence rather than potential bias.
According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, “This technology would be used to help law enforcement identify the first known purchaser of a weapon used in crime, therefore providing leads that would allow for substantial evidentiary information that will help identify, apprehend and arrest criminals.”
A history of microstamping in California
In 1999, California passed the Unsafe Handgun Act, the first of its kind in the United States, to ensure all newly developed handguns meet safety requirements. Years later, in 2007, California strengthened the Unsafe Handgun Act by requiring all new semi-automatic pistol models to incorporate microstamping technology. The law went into effect in 2013 after years of working to clear technology patents, and five years later, in 2018, the California Supreme Court upheld the microstamping requirements of the Unsafe Handgun Act.
Despite the court’s ruling, the gun lobby effectively boycotted the implementation of microstamping technology. Since the amended law went into effect in 2007, gun manufacturers have refused to develop new semiautomatic pistol models with microstamping technology for sale in California.
The gun industry claimed that they were unable to comply with the microstamping provision of the Unsafe Handgun Act because it required two microstamps. However, gun manufacturers have conceded that it is possible to engrave microstamping characters on just one place on the interior of the firearm, the firing pin, confirming they can implement the technology.
On Sept. 29, 2020, following years of tireless advocacy by Brady California, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 2847 into law. The passage of California AB 2847 will end the gun industry’s boycott of microstamping by requiring the microstamp markings in just one place on the interior of a firearm, instead of two, as the gun industry has publicly admitted they are capable of doing. Gun manufacturers can easily and affordably comply with this mandate as well as the other important UHA quality and safety standards. Additionally, AB 2847 ensures that for every new safe gun introduced into California, three unsafe guns that do not incorporate microstamping technology will be removed from the list of guns that can be sold in the state.
California led the way and created a national model for microstamping technology. We urge other states to recognize the need for microstamping technology and use California as a roadmap for success.